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Unit information: The Gothic in 2020/21

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Unit name The Gothic
Unit code ENGLM0040
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Passey
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

The unit introduces students to a selection of major primary texts in the Gothic tradition from Ann Radcliffe on, as well as a number of critical texts which represent some of the major interpretations of the Gothic to have developed over the last thirty years. Themes will include the notions of the explained and the unexplained supernatural; historical differentiations between terror and horror; the emergence and persistence of significant images of the monster, the zombie, the vampire; the various forms of the ghost and the phantom, and how these have recently become concerns not only in literature and literary criticism, but also in critical theory and in psychoanalysis.

The unit aims to develop students' understanding of the historical formation of the Gothic, and also of its various mutations up to the present time. The student should become able to trace the persistence and development of various themes within the Gothic, and also to think about how, whether and to what extent the Gothic is a subcultural form or part of a wider tradition. The student should also become more able to reflect upon the relation between various manifestations of the Gothic and the history within which it has been written, so as to assess the degree to which Gothic may be an 'escapist' form or one which has reflected the concerns of the wider culture(s) to which it responds.

Intended Learning Outcomes

1. A broadened experience of the range and variety of Gothic writing.

2. Improved independent critical thinking about key Gothic topics.

3. A maturing ability to apply critical and cultural concepts to Gothic literature, including considerations of history, psychology and cultural form.

4. Development of skills in research, analysis and critical writing.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities. These can include seminars, lectures, class discussion, formative tasks, small group work, and self-directed exercises.

Assessment Information

1 x 4000 word summative assignment (100%) [ ILOs 1-4] 1 x 1000 word presentation

Reading and References

Fred Botting (ed.), The Gothic (London: D.S. Brewer, 2001)

Judith Halberstam, Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (Durham NC: Duke University Press, 1995)

David Punter, The Literature of Terror: A History of Gothic Fictions from 1765 to the Present Day. 2 vols (2nd edn, London: Longman, 1996)

David Punter (ed.), A New Companion to the Gothic (London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012)

Andrew Smith, Gothic Literature (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007)

Dale Townshend, The Orders of Gothic: Foucault, Lacan, and the Subject of Gothic Writing 1764-1820 (New York: AMS Press, 2005)